BIRD OF THE WEEK / WEEK 8: February 19, 2018

© Liron Gertsman


Common Merganser

Species Name

Mergus merganser


54-72 cm length | 78-97 cm wingspan | 900-2160 gm weight

A large duck with a long, rather thin and serrated bill.

The drake has a white body with a black back, grey rump and an iridescent, black-green head. The white plumage may have a salmon-pink tinge to it, from the carotenoids in their diet. The hen is grey, darker on the back and wings and lighter underneath, has a white chin and a rusty head. Males in eclipse plumage look similar to the female. Both sexes have bright, orange-red legs, feet and bill. Juveniles look like the adult female, but with a stripe between the eye and the bill and with duller legs and bill.

Habitat / Behaviour

Piscivore | Rivers, lakes, ponds, coastal bays

The Common Merganser’s natural habitat includes freshwater rivers and lakes of forested regions as well as coastal bays and estuaries.

The Common Merganser dives deep for food, mainly fish, but will also take other aquatic animals such as molluscs, crustaceans, worms, insect larvae and amphibians.


Monogamous | Cavity and ground nesting bird| 08-12 white or yellowish eggs | 1 broods

Immediately after hatching, the female carries her ducklings to the water in her bill. The hatchlings can swim, dive and feed themselves, eating fish fry and invertebrates on their first day.